Originally released during the summer of 2014, Mysteries of Neverville: The Runestone of Light was developed by Urchin Games, and released on Steam in late 2018 by HH-Games. It has just been a difference of four years, and we can always appreciate new and exciting adventures!
Valerie travels peacefully towards her home, Neverville, when her carriage suddenly crashes while avoiding a road obstacle. Her friend Roland quickly appears in the scene, warning her that the whole town is under a dreadful danger!
Valerie is a brave guardian, an example of safety and a proud daughter of Cygnus Rastlin, the town’s powerful mage and guardian that everyone relies on, against all the evil that lies beyond the deep, dark forests. But not everyone is content with such order, particularly the necromancer Grimhall, who finally manages to steal the source that protected the city; a powerful light-magic runestone.
As Valerie, players will take the matter into their own hands to restore the stolen power, and eliminate all evil from the cozy little town. As can be clearly seen, the whole storyline is somehow simple, without any major associated plot. It’s a fast paced adventure, generic, yet, it does a fantastic job at entertaining. Dialogues are good enough for this type of game, and we can’t shake off the feeling of actors reading the texts directly from paper, without any emotions attached, but they still deliver a coherent narrative.
Right from the start, players are set to navigate through the small city of Neverville, pursuing the evil necromancer. There are three different difficulty settings, but no tutorial, which is a little disappointing. Next to the lack of features, follows the lack of a journal, and a map. A journal isn’t necessarily required, but a map would be nice. It’s understandable why it is not included, considering how small the town is.
Each Hidden Object Scene have two waves in which players can find items in a traditional way, by collecting objects based on their names. There’s a handful scenes, and they all reset for the second turn. Meaning, objects gathered previously, will also display on the hidden object scene. It’s not a let down, but it could have been interesting to have a change, considering how good looking the scenes are.
Although puzzles and mini-games are present, there aren’t many, and the ones included follow the same mechanics seen previously in other titles by Urchin Games. Rotating objects and color-based puzzles. They are definitely perfect for a casual experience, or newcomers to the genre, which may also apply, and it’s very family friendly.
Mysteries of Neverville: The Runestone of Light presents itself in a mix of fantasy with medieval settings. The town isn’t particularly distinct, but indoor locations are cozy and very welcoming. Characters use renders for cutscenes, where they are 2D voiced-over models. Some effects and particles give out an idea of 3D, which is convenient and very well conceived.
Hidden Object Scenes are well designed with objects being well placed and entwined in a clever method. They are not extremely hard to find, but give out a good challenge without forcing one into looking at every single thing on the screen. The art direction follows the game, in a hand-drawn scenery, with very pleasant items to collect.
The native resolution of the game is 720p, and upscales well for 1920x1080 resolutions, but might show some loss of quality for upper ones, such as 4K. The engine is the same used in other games by the developers, which means base PNG’s as game images. This makes it impossible for a proper upscale, but for 2014, it was a on-par quality. The Widescreen Mode extends the quality to support 16:9 screens, which is a useful extra.
There is no soundtrack, but sound effects are present, and create the necessary atmosphere for the game, especially at every interaction. It’s a shame considering this is the perfect type of game to use a fantasy-based music, but since it’s a 2 hour adventure, it’s definitely not a deal breaker.
Mysteries of Neverville: The Runestone of Light is perfect for the casual experience, and highly family-friendly. It’s not the most glamorous experience, but the straightforward narrative, simple puzzles and friendly story, make it a decent casual title from Urchin Games.